“Raceless,” newly released TV Pilot

I just launched my new TV pilot, “Raceless.”

Here’s a brief synopsis:

Jimbo Dempsey was “too” white. In the year 2265, that was not good. In fact, it was much worse. If your DNA was more than 65 percent white or black — you’d be exterminated. Two centuries earlier a totalitarian government — the Administration — had come into power, predicated on establishing a “raceless society,” one that would “eliminate conflict among humankind — no matter the cost.”

In “Raceless,” resisters become fugitives living on a new Underground Railroad.

If you’d like to read the script, click the title: “Raceless.”

Winner in Great American Song Contest

Just learned I am one of four songwriters who won an Outstanding Achievement Award in Songwriting (Country Music Category) in the 21st Great American Song Contest, for my song “Is It Love Yet.” Last year I was selected as a finalist for this award. I recorded the song in Nashville in the late Eighties. Trisha Yearwood sang the demo; it was signed to PolyGram (later bought by Universal). It was later released as a single by indie artist JoAnne Redding.

You can listen to Trisha singing “Is It Love Yet?” here:

I haven’t written much about my Nashville years on this blog, so thought I’d mention that I also had songs published by other major companies, including SONY, Tom Collins Music, Shedd House and Tillis Tunes.

The 21st Great American Song Contest received more than 1,800 submissions from 40 countries. Here is a list of this year’s contest judges.

Moon Landing 50 Years On

A decade ago, on the 40th anniversary of the moon landing (July 20, 1969), I wrote the following:

How strange it is that the venerable Walter Cronkite, who defined that very moment, should pass right now (he died July 17, 2009). It’s as if he and Neil Armstrong will somehow launch into eternity together, in a fitting orbit.

I was in a second-rate hotel in Eureka, California the day the Apollo 11 crew landed. I was with my own merry band of pranksters (my first wife, Carol, my sister, Alice, and friends) on a cross country trip in my 1948 Cadillac hearse. As we descended into the hotel lobby, Cronkite’s voice crackled from a TV, saying something like, “What a great county…I just don’t understand these hippies…” The TV was a table model that sat on a broken Sylvania console. Behind these proceedings, in a large picture window, a broken Native American shuffled along the street in the hot California sun. What an ironic scene. Could have been out of an Antonioni film.

To be fair, Cronkite, who had already helped turn the tide against the Vietnam War with his groundbreaking television coverage, eventually came to look upon the the so-called hippie movement more kindly.

My poem ‘Ghost Plaza’ in Gallery Show

Emerge Gallery’s “Art & Words” Exhibit — a combination of art and poetry inspired by one another — opened last night in Saugerties, NY. My poem “Ghost Plaza,” inspired by artist Ellen Martin’s photograph “Abandoned #98 Plywood and Pleats,” appears in the exhibit. Both are shown below.

Ellen Martin_Abandoned #98 Plywood and Pleats (10-10-2015)

GHOST PLAZA

By Allen Shadow

Blanked and shadowed
once curtained and live
the cratered parking lot
the power lines to nowhere
the mismatched plywood for eyes
yet can see, smell the luxe drapes
dripping sad theater where once
little ladies with purses sat for hours
beneath bulbous dryers, unaware
of the traffic and teen terrors beyond

Are there still stray coins perhaps
amid the slaughtered floor tiles
ones that might tell tales of transactions
good and bad and heated, when there
was once the throbbing of life?

The show will culminate in a poetry reading on Sunday, April 28, from 2 to 5 p.m. Emerge Gallery is located at 228 Main Street, Saugerties. The show is curated by poet, artist and gallery owner Robert Langdon.

Finalist in American Song Contest

I was selected as a finalist in the 20th Great American Song Contest, for my song “Is It Love Yet?”. I recorded the song in Nashville in the late Eighties. Trisha Yearwood sang the demo; it was signed to PolyGram (later bought by Universal). It was later released as a single by indie artist JoAnne Redding.

You can listen to Trisha singing “Is It Love Yet?” here:

I haven’t written much about my Nashville years on this blog, so thought I’d mention that I also had songs published to other major companies, including SONY, Tom Collins Music, Shedd House and Tillis Tunes.

The 20th Great American Song Contest received more than 2,000 submissions from 44 countries.

‘The Devon’ Published

Following is my most-recently published poem. It appeared in the literary magazine Waymark.

The Devon

The cup dropped from
the machine and teetered
till the syrup and
the seltzer mixed
and the cowboys
came around the bend
again and again
rifles erect
Indians on the run

My chin on my knees
skinny arms lashed
eyes ever wide
two Saturday matinee features
broken only by coming attractions
that would have to be seen
the war movies the dramas
the beach blanket bingos

I emerged from the slanted foyer
to the blinding afternoon
unsure who I was
knowing only
I wouldn’t always have to return
to the kasha-scented Bronx building
I would live in California someday
in the wild fake sunlight
I would I would

‘The Dream’: Poem Meets Painting

As part of Emerge Gallery’s upcoming “Art & Words: Ekphrasis” exhibit — a combination of art and poetry inspired by one another — I penned the poem “Dream,” which was inspired by Loel Barr’s painting “Leaving Kansas.”

THE DREAM

The dream that
comes in the barn
in the night
with Marie
and travels the road
when no one else
is admiring the purple heaven
thinking how someday
someday it might
part for us
might take us
yes just like that
everywhere and nowhere
all at once
the dream
the dream that is Kansas

Barr_Leaving Kansas

I will read the poem at a preview of the show, slated this Saturday, May 22, at 2 p.m. at the Saugerties Library, at 91 Washington Ave. The show, which opens May 6 at 6 p.m. at Emerge Gallery, 228 Main St., Saugerties, N.Y., will run through May 29. A special reading will be held at the gallery on Saturday, May 20, from 6 to 8 p.m.

‘Poet in the City’: the Lost Gem

The following is from Mat Danks’ Excavation Tape Project, which attempts to unearth previously undiscovered musical gems:

Excavation Tapes #267: ‘Poet in the City’ by Allen Shadow

kks-album-cover Wow, this is dark. And very cool. Listen here.

It’s a creeping, haunting yomp over some brilliantly bleak, industrial clangy instrumentation. Perhaps, like a gothic take on John Cooper Clarke with some pretty obvious touchpoints of Nick Cave and Tom Waits.

It’s from a 2002 album called ‘King Kong Serende’ and a bit of digging into Allen Shadow (see his blog here) suggests he’s a bit of a renaissance man. His Twitter bio states: “Novelist Allen Shadow (aka Allen Kovler) is also a music artist, poet, journalist & PR pro (APR) who blogs on writing, music and politics.” Which is what we like here on the Excavation Tapes.

If this project is all about unearthing really interesting and brilliant material lost in the banal mainstream crossfire, then we’ve got ourselves a gem here.

–Mat Danks

‘July Arrested Me’

Studebaker_53

Big July arrested me
the little kid
with the skinny arms
urging the steering wheel
alone in the unlocked Studebaker
the sun exploding
off the taillight chrome
of the fat Buick parked ahead

Wanting so bad
to roll out into the world
I had only imagined
how it would feel
like sex probably
which I also
did not know
or flying

And I did somehow
when the brake released and
I began rolling backwards downhill
and for a long moment
was on a fear-struck joy ride
maybe the last of my little life
but I might see the farms of Iowa
wild horses
and the TV sunlight of California

If a rear tire hadn’t kissed the curb
setting me down hard from my cloud
back to rest on the East Bronx street
to the cry of “supper”

‘Wrecked Nash’

Upon viewing this beast, this tank, this dream of a car at a local auto show, I knew it was time to reprise this poem from my recent chapbook, “America, I’ll Have My Way With You,” followed by a rumination on the original experience, which appeared in a post here on 3/9/10.

Nash_Full Car

In the Wrecked Nash

Big stand of day lilies
in the July morning
the time when the trees
begin to hang
 
the country taxi
takes a bend on 23A
headed up the mountain
 
I was nine the summer
in Mahopac when the ambulance
came and took old man Figarelli
the guy who threw
hot water on the dogs
humping on the gravel roads
of the bungalow colony
 
later me and Leif
sat among the hornets
in the wrecked Nash
that listed in the weeds
 
we had the front seat
and the world
all to ourselves
the huge plastic wheel
the split windshield
the hot seats
 
we could make up anything
excursions to distant states
being Audie Murphy
home runs a mile high
deadmen flying through the trees

From ‘The Hot Ride’ (3/9/10)

A heat bomb hit me when I slid into my Chevy today, a welcome rapture after an icy winter in upstate New York. It took me right back to the tireless Nash that was heaped among the weeds in my boyhood, nested among toads and copperheads in a bungalow colony in Peekskill.

A James Deanish boy named Leif was my summer partner in crime. He was the true grit country boy, I, the city kid learning the ropes. We were just short of teenage, and that mechanical skeleton was our rocket to the moon.

We sat in the stultifying July sun, hornets circling; our souls exulted from the dusty upholstery scents as we took turns behind the hot steering wheel, the battered speedometer feeding our imaginations. The cracked and crazed sheet metal became a time machine, taking us on far journeys through states that were as yet unknown. Our young hearts baked and burned. Turn after turn, we explored, as if mapping out the rest of our lives.

I have no idea what happened to Leif after that summer. Year after year, my own soul baked on: in my father’s Studebaker, Dodge; in my first car, a 1948 Cadillac hearse. That black monolith took me to California and back twice, tracing every road I had imagined in that magical Nash.

It persists. I’ve since traveled the back roads of most states. I continue the journey every chance I get: Cross Creek, Savannah, New Orleans, Pueblo, Greensboro, Kansas City, Staunton, Barstow, Albuquerque. Somehow, it’s always just beginning, when the sun enwraps you behind the wheel.

America is in my blood, my bones, as evinced in my writing.